That was the beginning of Teen Challenge in 1958. One man believed Jesus wanted to impact the lives of the street gangs of New York City. Little did he know that from the very beginning the bigger plan was to change lives around the world, freeing people from the life-controlling clutches of addiction and the destructive behaviors that ensue with the very same message that he started out with: Jesus loves you. He can transform your life.
Pastor Dave Wilkerson developed a program to address the challenges of addiction utilizing education, counseling, and the hope of new life through Jesus Christ. The first impact of this new program was seen on July 12, 1958, when the leader of the gang, Mau Maus, Nicky Cruz, and another founding member, turned their weapons over to Pastor Wilkerson in exchange for a Bible. Both of these men continue to be friends and ambassadors for Teen Challenge to this day. Their stories have been published in books such as Run, Baby Run, The Cross and the Switchblade and in a major motion picture of the same name.
Since that day Teen Challenge has grown to be a leader in the solution to the drug and alcohol crisis both nationally and internationally. Currently, there are 2000 centers worldwide.
NDTC is a long-term faith based recovery program. Its rapid growth and the need for the program’s service across the state prompted a move to a more central location. A 175 bed former addiction center was secured for use and the program began operations in Mandan, ND in 2005 providing services to men only. The next year a Women’s and Family center was established in another building. In order to maximize available resources and conserve costs the Women’s Center was moved into the Mandan facility in 2008 where both programs continue to reside to this day.
Since NDTC’s move to Mandan in 2005, over 230 men and women have graduated from NDTC. More than two hundred families across the region are experiencing restored relationships. Mothers and fathers have been reunited with their children. Parents have regained their sons and daughters and communities have gained responsible citizens able and willing to contribute to the good of their cities.
These include contracting and partnering with community agencies, work therapy programs for the students, and more re-entry services provided to help graduates have a solid foundation before returning to their families and communities.
Other avenues that NDTC is taking to bring awareness of the drug epidemic in our state include a program called, “Know The Truth,” ND, (KTT). This curriculum was designed by Minnesota Adult & Teen Challenge and is intended to inform teens of the dangers of addictions. It is designed to be taken into the public schools to educate students on the dangers of drugs and alcohol and to introduce them to real people who have personal experiences with addiction and its consequences. In its first 10 months of active programming 52 presentations have been made to schools, group homes, and drug courts across the state. Almost 3,000 students have heard the message of drug awareness and prevention and that they do not have to face addiction by themselves.
This group travels across North Dakota singing, sharing stories of the life changing experiences, and inviting those who are struggling to consider the program.
The ND Transformation Project, “Living Free,” sponsored by NDATC is a community based program intended to assist individuals and their families, before, during, and after the long term residential program. The curriculum and group activities continue to address issues surrounding addictions and the resulting consequences, provide positive alternatives to self-destructive behaviors and become a source of accountability for those seeking life-long sobriety. Currently there are active ministries in Bismarck/Mandan, Minot, Grand Forks, and Fargo with trained individuals assisting individuals, families and communities dealing with life-challenging life-controlling problems find wholeness in Christ. Contact Pastor Jeff at (701) 667-2131, extension 102, for more information.